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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 09 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Samba, Brazilian football, Rio funk and carnival were all born in Rio’s vibrant favelas. These marginalised, poor slums are as much a part of Rio – and the Rio experience – as the beaches or nightlife, and tours now take you inside – not only to see what life is like for residents, but to lay bare one of the most artistically vibrant and alternative communities in Latin America.

It’s an edgy, culturally intriguing and slightly nerve-racking experience – but one that shows how much Rio is indebted to these tightly-knit communities.

Price from: £25
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Tours take from three to four hours and most visits involve a stop in a bar or restaurant within the favela. Remember, Rio’s favelas have some of the highest crime rates in the world; always take a tour, and never enter alone or with someone you don’t know.

Avoid booking a distasteful poverty safari by choosing an operator that reinvests a percentage of its profits in community projects.

When to do it

Tours run all year round, seven days a week. Remember, after dark, favelas are dangerous, when most illicit activity takes place.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Rio Favela Tour

Rio Favela Tour

Rio de Janeiro

Not all tours are created equal! We put the Favela and community first! We strive to uplift those around us. Touring with us impacts positiv...

$30 | Rating 5 / 5 [43 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Favela Tour Rocinha and Vila Canoas in Rio de Janeiro

Favela Tour Rocinha and Vila Canoas in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

FAVELA TOUR is indispensable if you look for a deeper perspective of many aspects of Brazil`s complex socioeconomic structure. Tour integrat...

$32 | Rating 4.61 / 5 [240 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Favela Santa Marta Tour

Favela Santa Marta Tour

Rio de Janeiro

The Local Guide gives more authenticity to the tour, showing that the biggest motivation for favela tourism is the opportunity to share ways...

$32 | Rating 4.86 / 5 [114 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Favela Walking Tour in Rio de Janeiro

Favela Walking Tour in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Take a non-intrusive 4-hour walking tour of Rocinha favela in Rio, and learn about life in the city’s famous shanty towns. Take a respectful...

$34 | Rating 4.79 / 5 [67 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[2.7 miles]

Rooms are modern, flooded with light, and decked out with Paulo Alpes furniture. The best have views of the sunset over the beach and the Morro dos Dois Irmãos mountains.

Official star rating:

La Suite

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[4.8 miles]

Ducasse-trained chef is sumptuous. That’s a good thing, because alternative eateries, bars and the famous beaches are a 20-minute cab ride away.

Official star rating:

Hotel Fasano

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.4 miles]

Effortlessly hip and elegant in a choice Ipanema location, this is one of Rio’s most luxurious beach hotels in an unrivalled beachfront location.

Official star rating:

Hotel Arpoador

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.6 miles]

There’s a rooftop sundeck with fabulous beach views, a small pool and the restaurant serves high quality comfort food including a huge breakfast (included in the price).

 

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Rio de Janeiro

Southeastern Region, Brazil

Heaven for healthy hedonists – hang glide, surf or hike by day, relax on the beach and party all night. Then, of course, there’s that carnival…

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Hang glide off Bonita Rock

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[3 miles]

Hang-gliding heaven from atop a giant rock monolith, and out over rainforest, bays and beaches. One of the world’s greatest hang-glides.

Best for ages: 14+ | £120 | 3 hours

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Overview >

Tijuca National Park

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[3.4 miles]

Rio’s lush urban rainforest climbs over the mountains that surround the Christ statue and Atlantic beaches, affording some of the world’s most beautiful urban views. Excellent for hiking, biking and wildlife-spotting.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

Rio de Janeiro’s must-see architecture

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.5 miles]

Oscar Niemeyer’s home city and Brazil’s former capital preserves some wonderful colonial and modernist buildings hidden in acres of undistinguished concrete apartment blocks.

Best for ages: Any | Free

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Overview >

Rio’s best beaches

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[5.5 miles]

Life’s a beach – and that’s never truer than in Rio – but not all beaches are equal…

Best for ages: Any | Free

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Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[3.4 miles]

Once the Emperor’s private retreat, these gardens brim with rare plants and are a haven for birds and butterflies

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

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Overview >
Waves crashing on busy sandy beach
Experience

Ipanema Beach

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[3.7 miles]

Rio’s prettiest, chicest ocean beach, is watched over by the impressive Dois Irmaos mountain that sits behind. The water is cleaner, and the crowd more exclusive the further south you go, where Ipanema Beach merges into the more upscale Leblon Beach.

Best for ages: Any | Free

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Hike up Gavea Rock

Rio de Janeiro , Southeastern Region, Brazil[3.8 miles]

This half-day hike through a wildlife- and waterfall-filled rainforest ends with a scary summit scramble. It rewards, though, with the best views in Rio. Guided rock climbs are also on offer.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 6-8 hours

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People play football sandy beach
Experience

Football lessons on Ipanema Beach

Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Region, Brazil[4.3 miles]

Pelé da Praia has been teaching locals and tourists Brazilian football tricks on Ipanema beach for more than a decade. One-to-one tuition and group classes available. Contact him at peledapraia1@hotmail.com.

Best for ages: 8+ | £15 | 1-2 hours

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